Full Court Press

An important announcement this morning: our left hand menu now represents the most important issues facing humanity.  You can tell by the pictures.  

Need to get up to speed on the weekend's happenings?  Start here...

On to the rest of the links...

If you could actually watch Andre Miller play during the preseason, you'd be less concerned, I assure you.  Here's a great view from Wendell Maxey.

Right now, Miller is as strictly business as EPMD.

Against the Kings, Andre showed exactly why he's the savvy veteran point guard the Blazer faithful fawned over when Portland inked him as a free agent this past summer.

He sat guys up with ease. He overpowered Beno Udrih and Sergio Rodriguez on the block. He laughed. He smiled. He barked at the refs. He gave pounds to Greg Oden and Brandon Roy. He even leaned into Sacramento's huddle at one point as the Kings were game planning after a time out. And he wasn't shy about styling and profiling; a cross over here, a show and go there. On a night were he was welcomed by a nice ovation, Miller finished with 16 points, 5 rebounds, 2 steals and was 6-7 from the free-throw line in roughly 25 minutes.

So why are people down on this guy again?

Bethlehem Shoals with a nice take on Andre Miller...

To be fair, the ever-excellent Spears wrote a really extensive piece that allowed all sides to weigh in and featured plenty of complimentary quotes from his new teammates and coach, among others. But the article leaves you with the lingering sense that Miller does have, if not a chip on his shoulder, at least an insecurity complex. He thought he'd been accepted in Portland; instead, he's being put through the paces, if only because that's the Blazers way. 

Ah, the Blazers way. Spears believes that "self-described loner" Miller might not be entirely at ease with the team's "collegial spirit." You can see how this culture explains everything about how Miller's been treated by the team, if not the media. Given Miller's personality quirks, it could only make things worse. The guy wanted some security and respect, darn it, and here he is having to subsume the quiet ego and grown man's confidence that he finally got on track in Philly.     

Big time congratulations are in order to Brian WheelerPortland's Cal Ripken on the mic.  Writes Joe Freeman...

The longtime play-by-play broadcaster called his 1,000th consecutive game on Friday, when the Blazers lost to the Los Angeles Clippers at Staples Center. This is Wheeler's 12th season behind the microphone for the Blazers, and not a scratchy voice, illness nor any other hindrance has forced him to miss an exhibition, regular-season or postseason game along the way. 

"Luckily, I've never really had any trouble with my voice," Wheeler said. "I don't know if that's because of the great training I had in the school choir as a kid, where they taught you to breathe from your diaphragm and not put extra strain on your throat. But whatever it was, I've been lucky that I haven't had any real issues with that."     

Dwight Jaynes is not liking what he's hearing from Brandon Roy.

Wow, just a couple of weeks ago on media day, Roy was preaching unselfishness and putting the team first. I know everyone will side with Roy on this one because they love the guy - and this includes the local media. But I'm just saying, wouldn't it be good to get Roy off the ball a little bit? Long-term, what's best for the team?

Can he stay healthy through that long-term contract extension he signed if he's got the ball all the time? We saw what Houston did to him in the playoffs last season.

Brian T. Smith concludes that Andre Miller is a team player.

Miller, who is battling with Steve Blake for the team's starting point guard position, also said he felt wronged by the local media. According to Miller, a one-sided, quick-to-judgement portrait has been painted that depicts the 10-year NBA veteran as out of shape, moody and overly protective - a player who wants "to bring the team down."

Miller said that is not the case. He described himself as a team player who is solely devoted to playing basketball - someone who does not get involved in off-the-court politics. He also stated he is wiling to accept whatever role is given to him on a Blazers team that has been forced to balance high expectations with some unexpected drama during the first two weeks of training camp.    

Brian T. Smith provides a raw transcript from Andre Miller and Nate McMillan yesterday. Here's Miller...

On whether 'what was put in about me in the paper' refers to the results of the team's conditioning test:

Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah. 'Cause, I mean, it's a first impression thing. And that was the fans' first impression of me, you know. The conditioning test, and the other article about me being a private person. So, I kind of felt like, you know, me coming in was not, you know, not a team player, if you want to call it that. Or, you know, I don't get along with people. I didn't mean it like that. And I get along with all the players. We're not even a week and a half into the season. So, you know, for the fans - for me coming here, I want the fans to judge me by what I do on the court, you know - what I do off the court doesn't matter. 

On whether he would like the situation to be improved:

It's dead. It's dead. That's in the past. You know, so whatever's went on in the paper, it hasn't affected, you know, my practice habits or what I do on the court, so that stuff doesn't even matter. The purpose of me even talking to Marc Spears was just to be able to have my say, rather than it be one-sided, you know, where people get an idea or a feeling about me that I didn't feel was a positive feel. So, I wanted to just put everything out there straight. And, you know, like I said, the basketball stuff is going to take care of itself. I've never complained about any situation that I've been in, when it comes to basketball - I just went out there and played.     

Jason Quick goes "Inside the Blazers" to reveal that Brandon Roy and LaMarcus Aldridge are the team's top two scoring options.

All that apprehension was put at ease Friday night when McMillan used what by now has become a common practice - calling Roy to sit with him on the plane to discuss the team's future.

"He said he understands why I have been a little confused at how we've been going,'' Roy said Saturday. "He said he really wanted to use these preseason games for Greg to build his confidence and for Andre to play somewhat free and just make plays. He told me not to worry about the offense. He said there will come a time when he establishes that we will play through me and LaMarcus.''

John Canzano bashes Comcast again but leaves out any talk of the missing preseason games.  

You ask me about it more than you inquire about Brandon Roy. More than Greg Oden. More, too, than Trail Blazers playoff hopes. In fact, it is the single-most asked about issue when it comes to your NBA team.

The subject -- every day -- is Comcast SportsNet Northwest. And your question is: "How long will I be held hostage?" 

The safe answer: Eight more years.    

If you haven't checked out El Blog Ilusorio de Rudy Fernandez recently, it's been quite funny.

Coup from RipCityProject.com gives Travis Outlaw some dap...

It's a great NBA story. No, it doesn't have the drama of a player beating a drug addiction (Chris Andersen) or a high draft pick coming off a huge injury (Greg Oden) or players just being on the court at all (Grant Hill, Alonzo Mourning), but that doesn't make it any less worth writing about.

So let's appreciate what Travis Outlaw has done in six seasons. In 2003 he was drafted to a team that would begin a stretch of three losing seasons bookended by 41 win years and zero playoff appearances. Not to mention he was drafted by a franchise that, at the time, rivaled the Oakland Raiders in terms of dysfunction, discord and overall dismal-everything. They're only All-Stars were only All-Stars on "All-Mugshot" fantasy basketball teams. We've even heard stories about local writers being warned about getting sucker punched in the locker room. So comes along an unheralded, unassuming 19-year old from Starkville, MS (of around 20,000 people) and...how the hell was he supposed to succeed in that environment?

SJ from RipCityProject.com has steam coming out of his head over the Andre Miller reports!

It's unbelievable that this is a controversy.This is the definition of preseason nonsense. It bothers me to even be typing words about it. It's just reached a point where I feel like it had to be addressed. So let's take a look. You have  a veteran player in Andre Miller. A veteran who has started all but one game he has played since he was a rookie. Of course he wants to start. How is this shocking or a big deal? If you're shocked that Miller wants to start than you were also shocked when Clay Aiken came out of the closet and that wrestling was fake. However, what's magically been forgotten during this whole "situation" is that Andre Miller has never said he would have a problem fulfilling any role that was asked of him. Look at all of the quotes, Miller has never not said the right thing when it comes to this. I've never seen him say anything remotely out of this realm. And he's causing a problem?     

Sheed over at Bustabucket.com wonders if the Blazers have too much talent?

All that I'm saying is don't read to much into every single comment or quote a player says. A great deal of information right now is speculation. The Blazers have become the cities personal reality show and if something shocking or interesting doesn't happen, people get bored and restless.

It's a given that every guy wants to play and of course would like to start. These guys are good at what they do, and they'll go out and compete with eachother for the honor of competing against the rest of the league. A little healthy competition isn't bad, right?

Bustabucket.com also has some ridiculous photoshops you should check out.  Too funny.

Zachariah Blott writes on EmptyTheBench.com that Greg Oden could be an All Star.

Greg Oden is a popular player. Being named the best non-NBA center in America as a sophomore in high school kinda got things rolling. Then ESPN broadcast one of his games as a senior. Every left handed free throw at Ohio State was discussed and analyzed non-stop as he carried the Buckeyes into the national championship game, where he dominated the aforementioned lottery-bound trio (two of whom were starting centers in the playoffs last year). He was also named a first-team All-American in his one collegiate season before becoming the #1 pick in the NBA Draft. He's known for his humor and is a media darling even after playing only 61 games the past two years. Fans still check how he performs in games, and this is the year he's actually supposed to start putting up good numbers. If statistics were similar, who do you think wins this popularity contest: Nene, Biedrins, Bynum, Okafor, Okur, or Oden? If Bynum was something higher than his team's fourth option, he'd have a chance as a Laker, but that's not the case.    

Runyon on Trail Post with Jerryd Bayless's outlook.

 Sad part is, he is meant to be behind Blake. He isn't that great of a defender, he's still not a great passer, doesn't have much of a jumpshot (as of last year, although I heard he's improved that aspect) and he turns the ball over a lot. Only remedy to his problems, and one that was easily administered over the last decade, was lots of playing time to figure out his mistakes. Unfortunately for him, the Blazers are now one of the best teams in the league. No baby steps for Bayless. A simple case of the right team two years too late.    

Free Darko reviews KP2's book...

You'd expect PBP 2009-10 to only interest me so much. Any well-organized, impeccably-researched guide to every team, every player, and every important theme for the coming season, is fine by me; in this respect, this book is absolutely indispensable, and has very nearly hamstrung me when it comes to writing my own previews. But I don't just respect PBP 2009-10, or find it a handy reference tool. It's insistently readable, consistently eye-opening, and, from where I'm sitting, an invaluable ally in the project FD has sought to undertake from day one.

Henry Abbott with a very interesting follow up to his piece last week on Kevin Durant.

Here's the deal: For two years, when you have been in NBA games, you have put up amazing numbers, but somehow your team has been better when you sat. When you have been out there, opponents have outscored your team pretty bad. When you sit, they don't outscore your team as much. That's what +/- is.

(The final score, by the way, is also +/-. You play the entire game, and the team wins by twenty, you're +20. It's not one of those stats you want to ignore. Not when for two years it has been saying the same thing.)

The Sonicsgate movie has been released for your viewing pleasure online. Thanks to Skeets for the heads up.

A nice piece from Wendell Maxey on one of my favorite rookies, Tyreke Evans.

A 6-6, 225-pound point guard, Evans should hold his own against both small and big guards alike around the League. Just ask Steve Blake and Andre Miller. They've surely seen enough of Evans for a while.

Seen enough of his quick drives.

Seen enough of his handle.

Seen enough of his soft jumper.

Seen enough of the game that made Evans a high school All-American and "diaper dandy" in his lone year at Memphis before coming into the League. But surprisingly enough, Tyreke's jump from campus to the Association has actually been years in the making.

Drop anything I missed in the comments.  And be sure to frequent the fanshots!

-- Ben (benjamin.golliver@gmail.com)

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